Wednesday, February 4, 2009

... and things that go bump in the night!

Elliptical Mileage: 7.1 miles
MP3 Player: Nine (Original Broadway Cast)

Late nights can be a scary time for problem eaters (like yours truly!).

Human beings have always been afraid of nighttime, often for good reason. That's when carnivorous predators could make their move, or enemy forces could launch a surprise attack. Night is when the undead and similar monsters come into their own, as in the famous prayer often attributed to Robert Burns:
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
St. John of the Cross spoke of the "long dark night of the soul", and contemplative religious communities offer prayers at night, knowing that this is when so many sins are committed in the world. In Exodus, it is at midnight when God smites the first-born in all Egyptian households but passes over the Jewish doorways marked with lamb's blood.

Nighttime, in short, is when humans frequently feel at their most vulnerable - and many problem eaters share that sensation. For me, at least, it's late evening when the temptation to undo all the progress I've made over the course of an entire day can become overwhelming. I'm one of those dieters who can eat a sensible breakfast, a sensible lunch, and a sensible dinner, not starving myself but not going overboard, either; usually I can even ignore the siren song of the vending machine during the day at work, though I won't deny that I do sometimes hear it calling me. But even after a satisfying dinner, by 10:00 pm or so the urge to poke around the refrigerator gets stronger, and it's then, in the dark of the night, when I'm most likely to give in. These "mini-binges" aren't decadent - non-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, air-popped popcorn, whole-grain bread, healthy cereal with skim milk, etc., but I can sometimes rack up hundreds of calories from foods like that in those last hours before I fall asleep, and I can never understand why my willpower suddenly fades at that time of night.

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